Jean Shafiroff – First Lady of Philanthropy Speaks About The Beauty of Giving Back

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Photo by Michael Panccia

The alluring life of Jean Shafiroff captivates from the moment one is introduced to her. As the First Lady of Philanthropy, Shafiroff regularly appears on magazine covers, in fashion articles, and on society pages. The well-known adage that one can be beautiful both inside and out is simply the best way to describe the ethos of Shafiroff, for her life on the pages is both glamorous and at the same time full of compassionate advocacy work. 

As a philanthropic leader, TV host, and the author of the book Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What you Give, Shafiroff defines the beauty of giving back. The visionary is focused on leading the world to a more sustainable future. The deeper meaning of her existence is to do things with positive intent. From Shafiroff’s perspective, making the world beautiful through philanthropic work creates an everlasting positive impact. 

Wielding influence and encouraging others to dedicate their lives to creating change through volunteering is vitally important to Shafiroff. Her dedicated philanthropic work over the years has proved that when ingenuity meets purpose, the human capacity for solving problems is boundless.

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Shafiroff, who comes from the humble roots of a middle-class family, was instilled from an early age with the importance of giving back. Her music teacher father and stay-at-home mother had the family doing volunteer work at the school and church they attended. Parents and teachers were excellent role models who encouraged positive values in her life

After graduating from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy and a Master of Business Administration in Finance, Shafiroff pursued a career on Wall Street. Her philanthropic work started slowly when she volunteered at her daughters’ schools. From there she joined several charity boards and over time her participation grew to serving on eight boards and chairing between eight and 10 large fundraising galas each year as well as hosting and underwriting numerous smaller events in her homes and elsewhere for many different charitable organizations. 

Shafiroff spends countless hours working tirelessly to promote causes and at the same time works to motivate others to get involved. Her days are often spent in front of the computer and on calls to promote organizations and boost representation for them. She is a national leader in philanthropy. Her main areas of focus are women’s rights, rights of underserved populations, healthcare, and animal rights.  She is also interested in furthering LGBTQ+ equality, cancer awareness campaigns and several other causes. Shafiroff is involved in motivating the next generation and aims to instill in them hope as they follow her on the pathway to successful philanthropy.   

The art of giving back is witnessed in Shafiroff’s impressive and inspirational ways of being a true patron of good deeds. Admirable charitable work includes serving on the boards of American Humane, Southampton Hospital Association, New York Women’s Foundation, Mission Society of New York City, Casita Maria, Couture Council (Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology), French Heritage Society, Global Strays, and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Honorary Board. A Catholic, Shafiroff served on the board of the Jewish Board for 28 years and is now an honorary trustee.  

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All of Shafiroff’s work is understandably important and illustrates why she was bestowed an award in September 2022 of a proclamation naming her the “First Lady of Philanthropy of New York” from New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, representing the New York State Assembly. Then in November 2022, the 117th United States Congress recognized Shafiroff for her works in philanthropy. This recognition was given by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. 

Shafiroff has been honored dozens of times by charities which include American Humane, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Mission Society of New York City, French Heritage Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, Surgeons of Hope, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research, Operation Warrior Shield, Viennese Opera Ball, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Health Advocates for Older People, Youth Counseling League, the New York City International Film Festival Foundation, the Jewish Board, and Hadassah. In December 2020, Dan’s Papers named her Philanthropist of the Year at their Power Women of Long Island award ceremony.

As a leading authority on the art of giving, she has written about and spoken on countless TV shows and podcasts about the rewards of volunteering and philanthropy. Her TV show Successful Philanthropy, which airs several times each week in the Hamptons, gives celebrities, politicians, executive directors of charities and fellow philanthropists an opportunity to speak about their lives and philanthropic work. Shafiroff has a large social media platform and uses it to promote positivity, philanthropy, and her love of fashion. Her instagram account @JeanShafiroff has more than 1.2 million followers. 

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“The main message of my book, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give is that anyone can become a philanthropist. If you do not have large amounts of money to donate to a cause you can become a philanthropist by giving your time and knowledge,” Shafiroff said in Glamour South Africa. “However, I do believe that those that have financial resources have an obligation to give. Another important message that was conveyed in my book is that giving is truly rewarding. When we give to help others, we achieve great personal satisfaction. Giving is most often far more satisfying than receiving. The purpose of writing my book was to motivate others and then to serve as a guide for philanthropic work.”

Philanthropy the way Shafiroff encourages it can make the world tangibly beautiful. Through volunteering and taking the time to help others, life can simply become beautifully rewarding.

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